Small Steps in a Good Direction: Deb Davenport

The persistent dry mouth that had been troubling Deb Davenport all spring 2012 was her first clue that something might be wrong. And sure enough, when her blood sugar tests came back, they confirmed what she and her doctor suspected: Davenport had type 2 diabetes.

Davenport—who also had a heart attack at 43 and suffered from high blood pressure—remembered childhood friends who had diabetes and who couldn’t eat, it seemed to her then, anything.

Sarah Haveman and Deb Davenport

Sarah Haveman, RD, and
Deb Davenport

Her doctor recommended the classes at the Diabetes and Nutrition Education Center at Mary Greeley Medical Center. Those sessions helped Davenport understand the root causes of the disease, as well as all the foods she could, in fact, have. "It was absolutely amazing to me what I could eat," Davenport says.

After her first three sessions, Davenport signed up for two additional one-on-one classes with diabetes educator Sarah Haveman. In the process, Davenport learned about balance, good replacement foods, reducing carbs, and why her body could no longer manage sugar but how she could help it along. Since her diagnosis in April 2012, she's lost over 60 pounds and begun exercising. Her 25-year-old daughter has joined her in trying to improve her eating, too.

Davenport, who is in her late 50s, has set her sights on returning to the weight she was when she graduated from high school. She also has been able to cut her medication in half and learned how to tackle everyday outings—such as ordering in restaurants—in a way that won't sabotage her improving health.

"I eat a lot of things I never tried before," Davenport says. She credits the Diabetes and Nutrition Education Center with education at a critical time—as well as helping her dispel nontruths that still exist about diabetes. "If I hit a problem, I'd call Sarah, and she'd call me back. They partner with your doctor, too," Davenport says. "Everyone has these myths about what you can't eat, but there are a lot more 'cans' than people think."

The support she found was life-changing. "It's imperative to take the classes and take advantage of the time," says Davenport. "I'm not suffering. I'm not doing without. There's a plethora of things you can eat, and they're delicious. And you have to exercise, but you don't have to join a gym and pump iron. Just go out and walk. If you don't have anyone close for support, the hospital has educational programs. It makes such a huge difference in your life, you're cheating yourself if you don't do it."